“Downton Abbey” Season 3 premiered Sunday (Sept. 16) in the United Kingdom and while we can’t view it here in the U.S. for several months, we do have our spies and informants, so let’s discuss what we know about the premiere. Warning — don’t keep reading if you don’t want to be spoiled.
The estate is in upheaval, both inside and out. Outside, there is very little money left to support it. Lord Grantham made a bad investment in a railway company that is now going bankrupt and most of the fortune is gone.
Conveniently, however, Lord Reginald Swire has died (Lavinia’s father) and Matthew inherits all his money, which is a considerable sum. Matthew naturally wants nothing to do with the money, since he broke Lavinia’s heart and feels he cannot profit from her death.
Meanwhile, with the wedding between Mary and Matthew taking place, the inside upheaval arrives in the form of Sybil and Tom. Cora, Isobel, Mary, Edith, Mrs. Hughes and Anna are all very lovely towards him, while Robert is a bit prickly and poor old Carson is a bit more than prickly. Lady Violet is her ridiculous (ly awesome) self, but it is Matthew who really steps up.
When a spoiled rich boy who used to like Sybil plays a mean trick on Tom by spiking his drink, Sir Anthony Strallin exposes the trick and Matthew jumps to Tom’s aid by asking him to be his best man, since Matthew’s first choice has had to back out, and he asks him in front of the entire family. We’d be lying if we said it didn’t make us tear up a bit — “If we’re mad enough to take on the Crawley girls, we’ve got to stick together.”
Lady Cora’s mother Martha arrives and definitely gives Lady Violet a run for her money in the snark department. But, more importantly, she’s a bit put off that Matthew (such a distance relation) is the one inheriting her late husband’s money. Though it is tempered a bit by the fact that he’s marrying Mary.
Little does she know there is no more money. And when Mary sees Matthew’s inheritance from Lavinia’s father as a way to save Downton, he does not see it the same way — which to Mary says he is not on their side.
Thankfully, Anna talks some sense into Mary about how good of a man Matthew is and this proves it, and Tom talks some sense into Matthew about not letting this ruin things for them once again.
And the wedding goes off without a hitch, and with some lovely Matthew/Mary barbs at the altar. How disappointing it would have been without that sense of humor we all know and love.
There’s a new footman in the house, Mrs. O’Brien’s nephew Alfred. He’s very tall and very inexperienced, which puts Carson in another fine state. And Thomas is as jerky as ever, as he tells O’Brien he won’t help Alfred learn the ways of a valet (and Thomas is Robert’s new valet while Bates is in prison, thanks to his dog-napping scheme from last season).
Speaking of Bates, Anna visits him as often as she can and they’re working on getting his verdict overturned. Anna is convinced Vera killed herself to frame him, which is what we’ve thought all along and is also the only rational explanation.
Thoughts & Tidbits
- The look of adoration on Mary’s face when Matthew asked Tom to be his best man — her panties probably burst into flames (along with many a viewer’s).
- Daisy’s little snit about her position is kind of annoying, we’re glad that got resolved by episode’s end.
- Lady Violet sent the money for Sybil and Tom to come to the wedding. Wonderful. “Tom, you’re a member of the family now. You’ll find we Crawleys stick together.”
- The “sex talk” between the ladies was rather hysterical. Oh, it was all so simple then.
- The looks on the faces of Robert (dad) and Carson (pseudo-grandpa) when Mary came down the stairs were another teary-eyed moment.
- Clearly, the money issue is not over. We would have to think Matthew will inherit Lord Swire’s money, so as to give further drama to the new marriage.
So what did you think of the Season 3 premiere? We were so glad to see the show return to form of Season 1. Not that Season 2 didn’t have its moments, because it certainly did, but it was a bit uneven and it became so global with the Great War and all. Obviously, that’s not an event they could skip over, but it’s nice to see the storylines return to the intimacy of the house, we think. What do you think?